Right now, Northvolt is working to create the world’s greenest lithium-ion battery, which is a crucial part of the goal to electrify both industry and the vehicle fleet. With new processes and technologies come new needs, and in this case the skills supply is one of them. Something Northvolt will be talking about at this year’s Scanautomatic.
Emelie Adenlöf works at Northvolt as a project manager in the field of skills supply. She is specifically involved in the recruitment of production personnel for its battery factories and is also a representative for Northvolt in various projects both in the EU and nationally.
– Right now there is a huge shortage of engineers with battery-related skills. And this is just one of many challenges that lie ahead in terms of skills supply. To secure our recruitment needs, along with others in the industry such as Scania and Volvo Cars, we would need to graduate 1000-1500 engineers per year. A figure that currently stands at 50. This is a common problem for both companies and universities. It also places demands on us, the education system and the transition process, as we also need to employ thousands of industrial workers in Sweden, where the battery industry previously did not exist, Emelie says.
A steadily increasing need for skills throughout the industry
The growing need for new skills is shared by Northvolt with much of the rest of the industry. New technologies and methods are the enablers for the transition and the importance of training to provide the right skills cannot be overstated. Otherwise, the transition will be delayed.
– The biggest challenge for us right now is to move from “just” constructing a giga factory in Skellefteå to expanding several different projects simultaneously. We are also expanding in Västerås, Borlänge, Gothenburg, Gdansk in Poland and Heide in Germany. Meanwhile recruitment continues in Skellefteå, where we have now recruited 1200 of the approximately 4000 people needed there.
How do we ensure a better supply of skills? Emelie believes that the solution requires us to challenge standards and previous ways of working.
– There are great opportunities both to secure the skills supply and become a leader in this area. The basic industry that is emerging in Sweden right now is enormous and ground breaking. This means that there are new opportunities for related institutions and authorities to support growth and become pioneers in the field. But to do so, we need to challenge previous ways of working and think creatively about the common challenges we face. The municipality of Skellefteå is a good example of this. Its adult education service and Luleå University of Technology have collaborated on brand new training for quality engineers, a role that is very important for the battery industry.
Skills provision is high on Northvolt’s agenda, and they are working on it in many different ways. For example, they are working with the municipality of Skellefteå to look at what training needs to be in place to meet the future needs of the new industry that is emerging in the area.
“We need to review the systems and processes in place and dare to challenge them”
As stated, new ways of working are needed to enable the transition to a green industry. In part, this means that the supply of skills must be met from a number of sources.
– We need to review the systems and processes in place and dare to challenge them together with politics, business and the public sector. This is absolutely necessary to build new, green industry on time. This could include new forms of cooperation, support for relocation to nearby industries, initiatives to facilitate increased inward migration of foreign workers with the right skills, or investment in various training initiatives that can meet our skills needs and those of other industries, Emelie concludes.
You can see Emelie at Scanautomatic 2022 where she will talk about Northvolt, their skills needs, how they are working on these issues, and finally, what opportunities they see ahead.